Tag Archives: fast fashion

Top of the pops.

This weekend marks the end of my youth… Though, some might have said my youth ended a while ago… hardy ha ha. What am I talking about? Video Hits!

For those not familiar with the program, it showcased the latest video clips and completely unrealistic competitions (I don’t know who ever won them!). Over time the show evolved to having hosts and interviewing singers (Channel Ten had to place those ex-Australian Idol contestants somewhere).

I was among the many, whose childhoods was shaped by the program — not to mention my teenage years and my early adulthood. I would ritualistically turn on the telly and either plant myself on any couch or try to mimic the dance moves while cleaning… all while commentating on the chart parade with family, friends and housemates or whoever was around to listen to me.

According to Crikey, ‘historically, Video Hits was also one of the limited ways kids could explore their musical tastes in the pre-internet era. Unless you had an older sibling or hip friend, or dared parley with the intimidating punks staffing local record shops, you learned about music from Video Hits, as well as Rage, Smash Hits and TV Hits magazines, and commercial radio top 40 countdowns including Barry Bissell’s Take 40 Australia‘. Exactly! That was me! Pick me!

Apparently VH is the second longest running music TV show in the world; the longest running is the Eurovision Song Contest (Rage premiered in April 1987). But sadly, it has fallen victim to Channel Ten’s ‘restructure’ (or review, as it’s called in my workplace).

Farewell Video Hits, we had such a good time together and just for a bit of nostalgia, here is a bit of Britney before her meltdown.

Speaking of tops, another fast fashion label is heading to Oz, Topshop is rumoured to be opening in Melbourne/Sydney in 2012. According to dropdeadgorgeousdaily who cites ‘industry sources’, Topshop have their eye on a location at the Chapel Street Jam Factory precinct in Melbourne, and it is believed that the short list of Sydney locations include the outer-suburb Chatswood Chase shopping centre.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Topshop and H&M are watching Zara very closely. What will this mean for Sportsgirl? Portmans have already announced closing 15 to 20 stores (out of a total of 133). Is there room in our tiny market for these international labels?

Are you sad about Video Hits? Or are you a Rage fan? RAAA-AGE! Ra, ra, raaagggggeeeeeeeee!

images: Dave Lavington

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Australian fashion swimming overseas.

Yes, yes I will be writing about Zara, when the storm calms down a bit. Though you can read my previous posts about Zara here and here.

There is no doubt, many Australian fashionistas who know lots about international fashion. I too, have from time to time posted fashion trends from overseas. But how does Australian fashion fair overseas?

Imran Amed, editor of the Business of Fashion attempts to answer my question. He was a guest of IMG at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week.

Australian fashion has an image problem. When I mentioned to friends that I was thinking of attending Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, the reaction ranged from raised eyebrows to incredulous laughter. Others quipped that the sum total of Australia’s contribution to global fashion could be distilled down to Ugg boots and swimwear.

Gwyneth Paltrow in her Uggs

Is this true? Yes Australia designs awesome swimwear and practical wear (Ugg boots should never been seen outside the comforts of your home, I’m looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow), but we also have great designers such as Martin Grant or Collette Dinnigan. They might not work at established Fashion Houses, or be at cutting edge of fashion, such as Christopher Kane but Martin and Collette create beautiful, timeless pieces made from luxurious fabrics.

Martin Grant - AW11 - Look 11

In multiple ways, it seems the cards are stacked against the Australian fashion industry. Apart from the fact that Sydney is more than 20 hours away by plane from all of the major fashion capitals, the value of the Australian dollar has increased by over 100 percent in the last ten years, from 53 to 106 Australian cents to the US dollar. This has made products exported from Australia very expensive, though raw materials and services from abroad have also therefore become much cheaper, an important consideration in a country where local apparel manufacturing is scarce.

This is very true, don’t you think? It would be very difficult to compete in a market that is over saturated. For example a Camilla & Marc retails on net-a-porter in the same price range as 3.1 Philip Lim, Zac Posen, Stella McCartney and Missoni where labels have brand recognition for style and quality.

Imran further discusses the arrival of fast fashion and the online disconnect, adding that “Australia is now the third or fourth most important market for many international fashion e-tailers, a ranking that is disproportionate to the country’s relatively small population. [Yet] Australian retailers have been very slow to move online, citing complications with logistics and complaining about the unfair tax advantages… If Shopbop can get the goods all the way from America to Australia without issue, it’s surprising that local retailers cannot even organise themselves to deliver domestically”. Overall, a very balanced post that raises some good points.

What is being done to promote and support our fashion industry and in turn, what is the industry planning to do to compete with the arrival of international fast fashion labels and the growth of online shopping? Should we be tapping into China? China is a new market that has the potential to embrace new brands.  There is a lot at stake given that the broader textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industries in Australia provide over 48,000 jobs, generate exports worth $1.6 billion, and contribute $2.8 billion to our economy each year.*

Do you have any ideas? What do you think about the business-ey side of fashion?

images: Kitmeout; Martin Grant; Net-a-porter
*Statistics obtained from a Media Release by Senator Kim Carr dated 19 September 2008. Politicians are known for their accuracy in figures, right?

Other side of the coin.

A few posts ago, I wrote about Zara finally coming to our shores.   Apparently, there are still queues outside the Zara store in Sydney during peak times. I know when I’m bit stressed at work, I head to the nearest retail therapy.

However, the question remains: What’s the flipside of fast fashion?
Warning: this post is rather lengthy.

Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to acknowledge that designs move from catwalk to store in the fastest time to capture current trends in the market. It’s high-volume, relatively low cost fashion that is churned through stores like Zara, H&M, ASOS and Topshop.

Legend has it that when the first Zara store opened in Britain, on Regent Street, shoppers were a little mystified. The prices seemed high, and if the tentative shoppers were to come back next week the pieces wouldn’t be there. That was not the Zara way. The Zara way – the one that broke all previous rules – was that the Spanish retailer manufactured relatively tiny quantities of each style. Instead of focusing on quantity, Zara’s 200 designers come up with 40,000 designs each year, of which 12,000 are actually produced (that’s 5,000 more than Topshop). As a shopper, if you hesitate at the point of purchase you might miss your chance.

Apparently, this creates a terrible hunger in the consumer, what Harvard researchers have referred to as “a sense of tantalising exclusivity”, a pervasive fear that if you pause for thought, the opportunity to bag that affordable version of a catwalk sensation will be snatched from you forever. This can also be used to explain the demand and popularity of capsule collections such as Stella McCartney for Target; Lanvin for H&M; Peter Morrissey for Big W and Alex Perry for Diva.

But what is the real cost?

Waste: In one year an individual would accumulate in the region of 28kg of clothing – adding up to an estimated 1.72m tonnes of brand-new fashion being consumed on an annual basis in the UK alone. St Vincent de Paul receives 2.5 million kilograms of clothing and textiles annually in its Melbourne warehouse. About 80% of all clothing donations are sold and 20% of all donations are considered waste product and the really worrying thing is that almost the same quantity of fashion that you buy will end up being dumped prematurely in the rubbish bin.

Working Conditions: Fashion’s engine is powered by an estimated 40 million garment workers, with the majority on low and exploitative wages. Apparently research shows that many fashion companies place vast orders with garment factories with cursory calculations as to what they can handle. Garment workers are therefore under extraordinary pressure to complete orders on time. Enforced, often unpaid overtime is one of the most contentious issues. The most serious allegations include working days that are habitually stretched from 10 hours to 15, with workers locked inside factories at night to finish orders, subjected to intimidation and even violence to make them feel they have no choice but to stay.

Environment: In the production of a cotton T-Shirt approximately 60kg of water is used and about 45kg of waste water is discharged per kilo of output. During the dyeing process an extra 16-20 litres of water is used, 80% of the dye is retained by the fabric and the rest is flushed out. The global textile industry discharges 40,000 – 50,000 tons of dye into the water system.

Looking at that T-Shirt a little differently?

I’m not saying boycott fast fashion, because I’m not into that sort of thing. I am the last person that should say buy less clothes. All I’m saying is that it’s good to know the other side of the coin and think about a potential purchase. Do I really like this or am I only considering it because it’s cheap? Will I wear it 20 times? I guess fast fashion is almost like fast food, too much will make you sick.

Sources: The Guardian| Ethical Fashion Forum| The Brisbane Times| The Punch